a cup of coffee a la heart

Why Would a Donor Give to Your Charity?

a cup of coffee a la heart

What gets donors going? The heart, not the head.

 

People do not give to the most urgent needs, but rather they support causes that mean something to them.”

This is the finding from a report done by the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at the University of Kent: “How Donor Choose Charities.”  They begin their study from the widely-accepted premise that charities exist primarily to help needy people and the desire to meet needs is a key criterion in the selection of charitable beneficiaries. Interviews with committed donors found this was not the reason they gave. In brief, the study concludes:

Giving and philanthropy have always been supply-led rather than demand-driven: the freedom to distribute as much as one wants, to whom one chooses, is what distinguishes giving from paying tax. Yet the methods used to encourage donations tend to assume that philanthropy depends on objective assessments of need rather than on donors’ enthusiasms. The tendency to overestimate the extent to which people act as rational agents results in fundraising literature that often focuses on the dimensions and urgency of the problem for which funding is sought. The assumption underlying this approach is that donations are distributed in relation to evidence of neediness, when in fact much giving could be described as ‘taste-based’ rather than ‘needs-based’.

If there was ever a time to commit to finding out more about the folks on your mailing list so you know what floats their boats, this report indicates that time is decidedly NOW. Otherwise, you’re just “spraying and praying” as you buy into the conceit that “if only” folks knew about the need we address, they would give.  Because they should. That’s not why folks give.

People Don’t Always Behave Rationally

The truth is people are ruled by emotion more than objective data. We’re affected by stories we’re told and emotions we feel.

The study cites four criteria that influenced donor decision making. Perhaps surprisingly, they are not based on meeting your organization’s or your beneficiaries’ needs. Of course, these things factor in. But only after you’ve captured someone’s attention with something that relates to them and resonates with them personally and met the key influencing criteria.

THE FOUR KEY INFLUENCERS ARE:

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Three San Francisco Hearts: Butterfly Heart. SF Love. I LUV SF.

Surprisingly Simple Strategy to Magically Transform How You Work

Three San Francisco Hearts: Butterfly Heart. SF Love. I LUV SF.The single most important lesson I ever learned.

Begin with the why.

Always.

If you don’t, you’re likely to work very hard and not achieve much of value.

Why?

Because you didn’t begin your endeavor by asking yourself:

“What’s the value in this work upon which I’m about to embark?” 

“Why am I doing this?”

This may be the most powerful strategy in your entire toolbox.

So simple. So basic. So fundamental.

Yet it’s a step we tend to overlook.

Why?

The often-overlooked steps.

Humans are funny creatures.

Monkey see, monkey do.

Monkey be told what to do, monkey do.

We’re driven instinctually, by biology, to survive.

Don’t eat the berries no one else is eating. We take what appears to be the safest course.

It generally works in the short term. There must be a reason.

Sometimes, however, there is no reason.

There’s just habit.

Or the reason isn’t a good one.

Answering the why question requires two elements: knowing what and who something is for. Let’s begin with the what.

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Three San Francisco Hearts: Butterflight. Waves of Love. Lady in the Dragon.

7 Top Insights Nonprofits Can Borrow from Management Guru Peter Drucker

Three San Francisco Hearts: Butterflight. Waves of Love. Lady in the Dragon.If you’ve never read management and marketing guru Peter Drucker, you must. I fell in love with him early on in my nonprofit career, and still regularly draw upon his wisdom. It hasn’t aged; he was ahead of his time, and remains a worthy sage for ours.

1. Goals

Perhaps the most important thing I learned from Drucker was you must begin with the “why” question. What is your purpose?

“It is defined by the want the customer satisfies when she buys a product or service.”

You want to think about your purpose both broadly and narrowly. But not so broadly as to only be talking about your category. The fact you’re a human services agency, school, arts organization or environmental charity does not answer the question: “What would happen if you ceased to exist?

Most founders do not wake up one day with the epiphany “I want to start a nonprofit.” They have more explicit goals related to solving specific problems. “I want to provide homeless people with access to showers.” “I want to offer equine therapy to kids with disabilities.” “I want to find a cure for this degenerative disease my kid has.” And so on.

If a customer has no soap to buy, they can’t get clean. If a homeless person has no shower or toilet available, they can’t get clean. Whether the business is for- or non-profit, the sought-after impact is cleanliness – and all the ways being clean makes people feel, think and behave. Goals that answer the “why” question are focused on impact. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

Know your existential why — the meaningful impact you want to make — in order to build a plan to reach that goal.

TAKE-AWAY #1:

A goal worth meeting is one other people share. Find out:

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When you open the door, the future looks brighter

When Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door: Donor Acquisition

No nonprofit can afford to be an island.

As tempting as it may be to stay in your comfort zone, wearing blinders that enable you to forge straight ahead without noticing what’s going on around you, this is a dangerous practice.

Because sometimes the landscape changes dramatically.  And when it does, your nonprofit could get left behind. Unless you’re paying close attention.

This has been happening a lot over the past six years or so, as news and social media has been filling our brains, stoking our fears and tugging at our heartstrings as if from a firehose. People who care, when they see devastation and misery, want to help.

This happens, for instance, when emergencies arise. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Floods. Fires. Drought. War. Over the course of my four decades in fundraising, there have been years I’ve had donors tell me “This year we’re giving all our extra resources to respond to… Hurricane Katrina… Haiti relief… the Fukushima disaster… the refugee crisis… anti-hate organizations…  .” The list goes on an on.

In the face of such natural human impulses, what can you do?

When things outside your nonprofit’s doors portend impact for your ability to fulfill your mission, you need to be prepared.

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Donors Give to Big Visions. What’s Yours?

You know your mission. Your raison d’etre. The core of what you do. (At least I hope you do).

But hiding in plain sight are a bunch of shining, inspiring, hopeful visions. Not just the practical day-to-day work, but your hopes for what you’ll achieve if your wildest dreams come to fruition.

Big donors, and small ones too, are inspired by these dreams. It’s not that they won’t give to the mission; they’ll just give more to the vision.

Why?  Because they can visualize it, and it makes them happy to think of this vision becoming reality.

Your nonprofit likely has a mission or vision statement of sorts. But… which is it? And does the difference matter?

It does.

Not all mission statements are vision statements

But they really should be.

Let me explain by showing you the difference between a mission and a vision statement for a food bank.

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Ukraine in the palm of a hand

Don’t Be Out of Tune on Ukraine

Ukraine in the palm of a hand

The fate of the world is in all of our hands

 

It’s out of tune when you fail to even acknowledge that which is top of mind for you constituents.

At any point in time.

For the last couple of years it was Covid. All the time.

At various points it was also a range of issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, justice, law and order, or the lack thereof, individual rights and freedoms and, of course climate, including hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and droughts.

Right now it’s helping Ukraine and its people.

Whenever people are suffering, for whatever reason, it has a huge impact on the human psyche.

And when it’s in the news, that suffering and impact is hugely amplified.

People want to stop the pain.

If you can help people do that, they will be grateful to you.

How Can You Help People Now?

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Woman breathing, sunset

Want a true philanthropic culture? Make it the air you breathe.

Woman breathing, sunsetYour organization won’t survive and thrive with only great fundraising technicians. Youand the entire social benefit sectorneed organizational-development-grounded philanthropic facilitators. In fact, you need a team – maybe an entire village – filled with them!

This is what it looks like in a culture of philanthropy. And it involves more feelings than tangibles. What does it feel like where you work?

Your organization’s culture can make or break your fundraising – and just about everything else. If you don’t foster a culture in which people want to work, great professionals won’t apply for, or stick with, jobs. You have to be intentional in creating a culture that attracts, retains and grows professionals. The kind who will inevitably build sustaining relationships with supporters.

Here are some things you can do to build a true philanthropic culture.

Say what the culture is, get buy-in; demonstrate it.

To foster an authentic values-based organizational culture, you must first identify and write down the main beliefs that make up the culture. This can be simple – as little as a sentence or single paragraph – but this written manifestation of the culture you want to foster is critical to helping people understand the culture.

Here are some questions to ask yourself or, better yet, to do as a group exercise with a team of staff and/or board.

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